‘Modi Mahals’ in Times of Corona: Opposition Against Construction of New Parliament Building

Central Vista Project  is estimated to cost around 20,000 crore and expected to be finished by 2022-2024. 

As the country battles the deadly coronavirus pandemic, a decision of the government is being particularly condemned and criticised. Recently a government appointed committee has given its nod for the construction of a new building to house the Parliament to be built in the Capital. This has attracted the criticism of the government from various corners of the society and most importantly the Opposition parties. The Opposition has even gone ahead and said that “Modi Mahals can and must wait.”

These reactions from the Opposition began flowing just minutes after a meeting of the Central Vista Committee held through video conferencing on April 23 came into the public domain.

While many of those who were required to participate in the meeting as members requested that the meeting be postponed given the current crisis in the current, their requests were rejected saying that the project was in the nation’s interest and it needed time for implementation and thus the meeting was scheduled and conducted as per plans.

The new Parliament building will have a seating capacity of 900-1200 MPS and will have computer screens on tables and offices for Union Ministers and MPS and is expected to get built by August 2022.

 Central Vista project
Screenshot of Central Vista project

In response to this news, several leaders of the Congress expressed their anger and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, “Why can’t the Prime Minister shelve the Central Vista Project for a few years? How can India afford this extravaganza in this time of crisis? We have repeatedly asked the government to put it on hold. The many ‘Modi Mahals’ can and must wait! India and Indians first.” 

The Opposition also appealed to the government to stop and stall the project for the time being. It ought to be noted that the salaries and allowances of MPS were cut and MPLADs have been suspended for two years, he said that if the project continues it will only amplify the financial crisis that India is likely to face. 

They underlined that such a move was clearly unmindful of the crisis staring at the country and that objections had to be raised against the step. The Opposition said that this was an atrocious placement of priorities and the construction of the new Parliament building can wait for the time being. 

The lives and livelihoods of thousands of people were at stake and the economy was clearly in doldrums. What must also be emphasised is the fact that the country is currently grappling with a pandemic and thousands of people have lost jobs and people are hungry. The Opposition underlines that given such a circumstance, the priority of the government should be generating livelihoods in the aftermath of cross and providing food to all. The Central Vista Project will suck away crores and crores of the country’s precious funds. 

Posters by Lokpath on the Central Vista project.

The Central Vista Project  is estimated to cost around 20,000 crore and expected to be finished by 2022-2024. 

This would include the construction of a new triangular shaped Parliament, new residences for the Vice President and Prime Minister and 10 new building blocks to accommodate government offices. The Prime Minister’s residence and office are likely to be shifted near the South Block and the vice-president’s new house will be in the vicinity of the North Block.

It was in March that the government had issued a notification wherein it had said that changes will be made to the land use of around 90 acre land in Lutyen’s Delhi near the Parliament House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block to enable the redevelopment of the Central Vista.

The project has received severe criticism from a number of  architects, urban planners, social activists and intellectuals and environment conservationists who feel that this will be nothing but a wasteful expenditure. 

A large section of the MPs have questioned the project with some even saying that the design of the Parliament on which the new building has been planned was not inspiring at a meeting called by the Lot Sabha Speaker Om Birla in March.